9

Paperback probably at least 20 years ago. in English

The 2 researchers (1 male and 1 female) are just a side story to the main novel... (Their "story" is told in various interludes between chapters or sections of the book) I have no recall what the main story was about other than Time Travel.

The researchers are assigned on overlapping alternating 20-25(?) year assignments... (Year 20, "B" is there "C" arrives, "A" leaves, B&C work together" Year 30 "B" leaves, "D" arrives, C&D work together, Year 40 "C" leaves and "E" arrives, D&E works together, etc.)

This not a choice assignment and they live as the locals do to blend in. (Bad food, bad hygiene, bad living conditions, wild animals. But they have Contraceptive Implants and Vaccination Shots so they wont get sick)

I think in the First Interlude when the new researcher arrives, He/She gets told "Welcome to xx,xxx years in the past, I am out of here" as the leaving researcher gets in the pod and leaves. The arriving researcher is upset they thought they was going somewhere else and has not trained for this assignment.

Next interlude, something happens with the time machine and the next replacement arrives dead. (a withered aged husk) So the returnee is reluctant to try returning in the possibly defective pod. They hope it will be resent when it returns with the body, but its not so they have to await the next scheduled arrival.

Unfortunately, in the next interlude it either happens again, OR the same pod with the same corpse arrives again and they realize they are stuck...

I think the last interlude, they are getting quite old now and they are talking about the Contraceptive Implants will have worn off by now and they are going to have to start having kids to take care of them in their old age.

Again these 2 people were NOT the main story. They were only a side story to the main story.

  • When did you read this? – Stormblessed Aug 11 at 2:00
  • Dohhh!! Hmm at least 20+ years ago. – NJohnny Aug 11 at 2:05
  • Did it seem old when you read it? – Stormblessed Aug 11 at 2:07
  • @Stormblessed No It seemed new when I read it... No more that 10 years older at that time. so I would say it was a 90s Novel. – NJohnny Aug 11 at 2:26
  • @user14111 It was strictly a Time Travel Story. No Aliens involved... The main story Did not involve the primitives... It was Much more recent time travel story. Modern man.... The Researchers and the Primitives were just side story told as interludes... – NJohnny Aug 11 at 2:28
10

This is a side story in Leo Frankowski's Conrad Stargard series, following various people blamed for stranding Conrad, a relative of the owner of a time travel company, in medieval Poland. The first book has a female researcher making the initial error that results in Conrad's trip through time. The later books all open with her, and her superior, dealing with the punishment.

From The High-Tech Knight, book 2:

"You weren't briefed? This is anthropological research station fifty-seven. The time is half past two. million B.C., and I am your charming host, Robert McDougall. I'd tip my hat, but you see the problem. The tribe here calls me 'Gack,' so you might as well, too. No point in being formal when you're naked. I'll be your boss for the next fifty years.

....

"All part of the high price of science," he said. But she had pulled herself into a fetal position and was sobbing louder. "Hey, you're serious, aren't you? You actually didn't volunteer for this post?"
"No! I mean, yes I didn't volunteer. I was in twentieth-century Poland. I spent one day on my new assignment and the monitors came and I woke up here! I'm in the Historical Corps. I don't know anything about anthropology!"

From The Radiant Warrior, book 3:

"Surprise! You son of a bitch!" she shouted. "Welcome to two and a half million B.C.! Welcome to a hundred years of dodging leopards and eating grubs and shivering up in a tree all night, you bastard, because it's all your fault!"
"What? Where am I?"
"The where is eastern Africa, you lucky boy, but the fun part is the when! You're in the Anthropological Corps now and you get to do the exciting work of tracking protohuman migration patterns!"
"This must be some sort of a joke! And you are the rudest and the ugliest woman I've ever seen!"
"Watch your language, buster! I'm your boss and will be for the next fifty years. And if you think I'm ugly, just wait until you see yourself in a mirror, not that we have one."

From The Flying Warlord, book 4:

"Whoopee shit! . . . It's finally happening," she said. "A hundred years of tracking protohuman migration patterns on the African plain and it's finally over! It feels so good that I almost don't hate your guts anymore!"
"Well, don't get too carried away. You deserved every minute of it for dumping the owner's cousin into the thirteenth century when the guy didn't even know that time travel existed. And you deserve twice that for getting me messed up in it. Now get your scrawny body in the box. Time's running short!"
"Eat your heart out! I'll have my old sexy body back, and I'll take bubble baths and while you're eating carrion, I'll gorge for weeks on lobster thermidor and New York cheesecake and—"

....

She stared at him and then at the other stasis chamber.

The body within was shriveled and dried. It was laying on its side, a look of horror on its face. Its fingernails were all ripped off as if the man had tried to claw his way out before his air was exhausted.

From Lord Conrad's Lady, book 5:

On the lush African plain, at two and a half million years B.C., two small brown individuals were sitting naked on a small hill. To all outward appearances they were a pair of type twenty-seven proto-humans.
“There’s blood on your leg,” he said.
“I’m menstruating. The antifertility vaccine is wearing off. It’s been a hundred and eighty years, and the shot was only supposed to last a century.”

....

“Well, there’s something we ought to talk about. We’re getting old. Before too many more years, we won’t be able to take care of ourselves anymore. If we stay with the protos, they’ll treat us the same way they treat their own parents when they get too old to be useful. They’ll just abandon us,” he said.
“So?”
“So we have to do something about it! We have to make sure that there’s somebody around to take care of us when we get really old. See, my antifertility shots have worn off, too. For the next few years you can still have children, and I’m still fit enough to take care of you and them. If we raise them right, they’ll take care of us when it really gets bad.”

Frankowski dropped the plotline from the sixth book on.

  • I found the first of that series, but it didn’t sound like a match based on Goodreads. – Stormblessed Aug 11 at 2:48
  • Yeah, the first book follows the researcher making the initial mistake. She doesn't get consigned to prehistoric times until the second book. – FuzzyBoots Aug 11 at 2:51
  • Whoa that was fast... Yes that is it!! I remember reading Cross Time Engineer series now. Had not realized that the interludes were from different books in the series. – NJohnny Aug 11 at 2:54
  • @NJohnny: I enjoyed reading them as a kid. I felt like things started dropping off in quality around book 5 or so, with Conrad losing his primary enemy of the Mongols, and from book 6 on, Frankowski just kept giving him new toys to ensure his superiority. And, of course, now the bits justifying schtupping underage girls get a bit creepy. – FuzzyBoots Aug 11 at 2:57

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